Body work 9: rusty rocker remediation begins

I may regret not taking it to a professional at some point but I just can’t bring myself to let someone else do this job.  The whole point of this exercise -restoring the SS- was to learn a bunch of skills and see what I could do.  So, in that spirit I put on my grubby work clothes, got out the serious metal-cutting tools and went for it before I had time to turn back.

Friday afternoon I got to the shop at about 430.  I have been looking at this rusty mess since before I received the car and it struck me at that moment -now was the time to fix it. Under that rust hole is the support for the door, a sort of cup.  Fortunately it is VERY solidly attached and  I just need to work around it.

Here’s what I am starting with from the inside.  The door support cup can be seen here too but from the backside.  This looks awful!

A big cut off wheel, a wire wheel, a hacksaw blade and a Dremel tool with a little cut-off wheel were the tools I employed. Of course I wore eye protection and a very good respirator! While the metal does look bad, most of it is still quite thick and strong if the effort it took to cut all this out is any indication.

All most there.

Here it is from the other side.  This is very scary, no going back now.  The metal I cut away is very flimsy. My approach is to cut as little as possible away.  This is the point I left it at when I went home on friday evening.

I’ve seen this done many times on rust repair threads on the Alfa BB so I knew how to make my patch panels.  It doesn’t look like it but I ground most of the rust off of the edges of the metal I left.

I used snips to cut this out of a leftover piece from when Bill put the floors in. Those red and black things are magnets to hold the piece in place while I tack it in.

I have to admit, I had spent maybe 10 minutes welding in my whole life before I tacked this piece in.  At this point I used a hammer to nudge the corners a little and get them lined up as well as possible.

Zip zip zip, this nasty looking weld took me about 15 minutes.  The old metal pops and spits a lot when welding.  Looks pretty good from the other side.  There are a few burn throughs to fix, but I’ll deal with that after I grind them down.

Some more nasty welds.  I have a feeling this is going to get easier, but I’m not sure when.

A few more little pieces in place.  I think you are supposed to use a brake to make bends in a single piece of metal but I decided to have each plane be a new piece of metal.  My welds joining new metal to new metal came out pretty good.  Lots of clean up to do with a grinder later.

Okay, I’m not totally proud of how this came out, but I am proud to have attempted it.  Next time I’ll attempt more and learn some more and eventually this will all seem easy.

Alright faithful readers, some of you are amazed, some appalled, and some are saying ‘see, I told you so’ but hopefully all of you are glad to see me back at it and moving closer to the point where I start learning how to apply body filler and shape it and, well, you get the idea.  How do I feel about what I got done?  I feel empowered, I am one step closer to being able to say ‘I can fix anything!’  Stay tuned for about 7 more posts about repairs of this sort.


20 thoughts on “Body work 9: rusty rocker remediation begins

  1. Tough job! Just a suggestion, you need to clean the old metal back to a ‘shiny’ state where you make a join – you are otherwise contaminating the weld and this will explain the popping sound.

    • I’m going to try those little sanding disks today to see if I can get the metal any cleaner. I couldn’t get at some of it very well except with a Dremel so it didn’t get very clean. I imagine by the end of the 20th hour welding I’ll have it all figured out and may redo some of this.


  2. Go, Matt, Go!! I’m stoked to see you back on the SS.

    Like you, I have read a bunch of threads on this sort of thing on alfabb. Some folks blast their car, then do the metal repair. Others do the metal repair before blasting the car. But, I haven’t seen much discussion of the trade-offs for doing it one way or another. Do you have a rationale for doing the repairs first?

    • Jon,

      Thanks for the cheerleading! I’m going to be one of the guys who doesn’t blast the car- though like all things I may change my mind.


  3. Thats a good start. Are you using a shielding gas on the mig? If not you might look into it. It will give you a better looking bead. On that note, make sure you get a good penetration into the base metal rather than just adding to the top of everything. Its a good start, and it will get easier. Like one of the other posters stated, get your metal as clean as you can get it.

    Good luck,

    • Will,

      Yes, I am using shielding gas. It is penetrating as I can see the weld from the other side, and yes, it is getting easier. Not trying to win any awards, just trying to get it on the road.


  4. Wow, hats off to you Matt. You are one, brave and determined guy. When I look at a repair like this one, all I can say is ” where the hell do I begin” and “how am I going to do this?” But, I’m certain the end result will be worth the effort. Carry on !!

  5. Go Matt Go,
    You are on your own road to creating anything you want! I concentrate deeply while welding and enjoy it very much, and love loud rock-n’-roll while doing it.
    Your Fan,

  6. Dear Matt: You don’t say in your post whether you rebuilt your rocker panels the way Bertone designed them or redesigned them to drain better. I thought I’d seen Russ Baer’s drawings of his redesigned rocker panels (to correct Spiders’ “traditional weakness”) somewhere in the literature recently, but guess I’m mistaken. Someone may have saved copies out there. They probably appeared in the Capital Chapter’s newsletter, “Alfantics,” or the “Owner” while I was editor (1970s). The “Owner” ran something about rocker panel rebuilds in its Jan. 1963 issue, but I wasn’t editor then. In my book, I wrote superficially of Russ’s modifications (at 147): “He decided to eliminate the open water traps at corners of bent-up sections original to the Farina design. ‘The basic problem,’ he says, ‘stems from a design intention; complex structures of lightweight members provide superior rigidity and super traps for moisture. These members rot from the inside out.'” No matter which Giulietta is involved, based on my admiration of Russ’s improvements, to forestall future problems, I advise that the rocker panels be redesigned whenever a rebuild is indicated.

  7. Hello Matt,
    I am looking for lower sills and rocker panels for a 1960 Giulietta ss? Do you know if I can buy them somewhere?

    Thank-you for the help


  8. Hello Matt,

    thank-you again for your answer. I phoned Afra but they answered they do not have such parts for SS. If you have some other sugegstions, thank-you.


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